Sunday, June 30, 2013

Photo session with Tatiana Lopez Fotografía

I have always wanted to do portraits of Kesha. However, when she was born no one in Cuenca did the typical newborn photos you "ooh and ahh" over. It was always a bit of a disappointment to me that I never got it done for her.

My brother in sister-in-law to be gifted me professional pictures of Kesha for my first Mother's Day (the best gift you could ever give a mother by the way), which I love an cherish!

So, when a friend of mine found this young, talented photographer here in Cuenca for her daughter's baptism pictures, I jumped on newborn pictures for Kalah, individuals of Kesh, and sister pictures! And what better timing that to have them printed for Father's Day gifts!

Since this was the first time I have had their pictures taken I had no idea what to bring with me. My mom and I went crazy with the prep and brought way too many clothes for the girls. Our prep experience would have been much less stressful had we just packed 3 choices for each girl and then trusted that the photographer would do her thing. We used one outfit per child. No more. (note here though that we did pictures with the girls wrapped in cloth since we were doing newborns for Kalah, and Kesha refused to change clothes... so if you have two older children, and children who are willing to change clothes, you might need all 3 clothing changes, but I wouldn't bring more than that).

Tatiana, the photographer, has tons of props available and used them very tastefully. Her mother is her assistant and was there to help with the girls. She was so wonderful with Kesha, who would only change clothes for her. And help try to rock and sooth Kalah when she cried.

Overall it was a very positive experience for us. Tatiana has studied in Argentina and the US. She is completely bilingual English/Spanish. Her photos are gorgeous, and her prices reasonable.

She charges $100 for the session and 11 high quality printed pictures (10 5x7s and 1 8x10... although she let me change mine out for 12 5x7s). Extra prints are reasonable, running $2-3 per print. The set you see below were the proofs we were able to choose from.

A disc of small-sized photos for Facebook, email, etc. can be purchased for $20.

The high quality photo files with rights for unlimited printing run $2 pr photo.

If you are in Cuenca I highly recommend using Tatiana! She will do on-site shoots around the city and outside of the city, studio, outdoor, weddings, baptisms, birthdays, and just about any other event you'd like to capture (prices as I listed above were for my studio session with herm other prices may vary).

Here is her contact information:
Address: Gran Colombia 7-54 (in front of the Hotel Dorado)
Phone: 098 354 1323

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Homemade handprints

We made handprints of the girls! I have always wanted to do this and wish I had the right of mind to do this when Kesha was a baby. I think they are wonderful keepsakes and make beautiful gifts.

The blog post where I found this recipe had this project listed as ornaments. However, I am a fan of the natural look and opted to keep them classic and unpainted, a year round keepsake. So ours are everyday home decorations and make for one of a kind gifts for parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. In fact, ours will be given to Kesha and Kalah's Great Nana as a thank you for Kalah's birth gift. And to their Grandpa, their Abuelito, and their Papi for Father's Day!

This recipe akes approximately 6-8 ornaments (Or in my case it made 2, one for Kalah and one for Kesha. Then Kesha didn't want to partake any more and we had to throw away the dough because it sat out in the sun and dried...)

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • A drinking glass (or a round cookie cutter)
  • Something to make a hole in the circle (if you want to hang them)
  • Ribbon (if you want to hang them)

  • Preheat over to 300°F / 145°C
  • Mix flour, salt, and water
  • Knead for 15 minutes
  • Roll out the dough (not more than 1/4" thick)
  • Use your glass to make rounds
  • Press child's hand into dough making sure you press hard enough to make a nice, deep impression (this is the hardest part and where a tired child will fight back)
  • Poke a hole in each ornament with your "hole making device" (I used a kids oral medicine syringe... I'm creative and don't have many hole making devices in my house)
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bottoms begin to turn golden
  • Wait for the rounds to cool
  • Thread with the ribbon of your choice

Rainbow rice

This week we made Rainbow Rice
(Note this is a make ahead project! You cannot use the rice the same day you make it!)

Our first rainbow rice making experience

I find arts and crafts projects to be difficult at times here. Pinterest is full of amazing ideas, but the supplies, many times, cannot be found here (or can be found but aren't the same and don't offer the same results). So when I come across an activity like this one where I know that all of the ingredients can be purchased less than a mile away from my home, I jump on it!

We haven't done this in a while, but I think it is is one of my favorite things to do with Kesha for the following reasons: 
a) she can get her hands dirty and be involved with the entire "production" process
b) it involves food coloring, which is like painting, which she loves
c) it is quick
d) it's a pretty easy clean up
e) rice is cheap in Ecuador
f) you can keep the rice for quite a while... basically until it gets too dirty to continue playing with

How do you make it?

4 cups of white rice
1 teaspoon food coloring of your choice (or mix it up!)
3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
Ziplock baggies

Step 1:
Get some rice and divide it in to Ziplock baggies. In this picture we only made 2 cups of rice as 4 is a lot for just one preschooler. We used the snack sized baggies and put 1/4 of the 2 cups in each baggie. It fit perfectly!

Bugsy bagging the rice... she loved to let it run between her fingers.

Step 2:
Add the alcohol to the rice and the food coloring of your choice to the rice in the baggie. Again, we divided everything in quarters so we could make 4 different colors.

Close the baggie well and mix until food coloring/alcohol mixture is evenly disbursed (this involves a variety of techniques including smushing, shaking, and kneading).

Kesh shaking her bag of rice with green food coloring.

Step 3:
Admire your beautiful colors as you lay the bags out to dry in a sunny spot. 
Leave the bags at least over night to dry

Immediately after mixing our colors
Letting our colors dry. I chose to do it on a towel at first in case of leakage,
then moved them to the table when they were a bit drier. 

Step 4:
Clean up!

I like to let Kesh wash the dishes after our projects. She gets dirty during our project process, then cold and wet during the clean up process, then I throw her in the tub. This turns 30 minute rice making project in to at least an hour and a half of art, texture play, water play, clean up time, and bath time fun! Definitely a win win situation! 

After making the rice I even let her use the food coloring in the sink so she can explore how the colors disburse in water. 

Food coloring and water in a container.
This may or may not have also contained the rest of my dish soap... hmmmm.... 

Have fun with this project, and please share links to your rainbow rice photos in the comments section!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Postpartum recovery - one month in

Let me tell you something, after baby #2 (and I'm assuming consequent babies as well), your body goes in to full rebellion mode.

"HECK NO!" it says. "There is NO way I'm letting you off easily this time! After what YOU put ME through? You're not springing back like you did the first time 'round!"

And so it goes.

Baby #2 takes a toll on your body.

I am no exception to the rule.

Immediately postpartum
One month postpartum
I HAVE NO ABS! I mean literally, I have no muscles in my abdomen whatsoever!

With multiple abdominal surgical procedures during this pregnancy, the later half of this month has found me struggling to do more advanced daily routine items such as picking up my growing toddler and carrying her, heavy house work, walking for extended periods (I mean, I'm talking 1 mile max), etc.

So, today I purchased something I never thought I would. I bought a postpartum abdominal wrap.

I remember after Kesha was born I would "poo poo" these items. The women here in Cuenca swear by them to bring your hips back in to place and flatten your stomach. After Kesh's birth they were all trying to convince me it was the way to go. But when I was back to my normal shape and weight within two weeks of her birth I blew them off.

This time around we're one month out. I'm uncomfortable from being cut open (and apart). My baby belly is still in existence (some asked me if I was pregnant... nice), and I'm still 15 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight (and those pounds are not going anywhere soon). But the final push for me was reading this article about the benefits of postpartum wrapping, which go far beyond just one's physical appearance.

So, I'm convinced and the belly wrap goes on!
(For those who are interested I bought my wrap at Fybeca in Cuenca for about $36. They had a post surgical band, but I opted for the postpartum band as it was wider and cut for the female body's curves.)

Seeing how the wrap works... I think it needs to be a bit tighter
Another picture, because we need to have multiple views of the wrap...

I will be given permission to participate in physical activity in about 2 weeks, so hopefully I'll start getting my body back to the me that I know and love. I think that will make me a better mom, a better wife, and mostly importantly a happier and healthier person.

So, here goes nothin'. I'll let you know how it goes.

If you have experience with postpartum wrap use I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

This week 6/3-6/9

This week was my mom's first week out of 3 with us here in Cuenca. It was a week of colds in our home (Kesha was sick, Kalah was sick, and I was sick). However, there were still many many wonderful things that happened this week! Enjoy!

Kesha was given a new picnic basket/tea set combo by her Nana. They even went to the park to use it. She is in love!

We made agua de jamaica (hibiscus water) which is such a beautiful drink, so refreshing and easy to make!

My cooking is finally back on track after suffering many botched attempts following my bed rest hiatus.

The girls started wearing matching outfits. And who do you think loved it the most? The one and only Miss Keha Lee, that's who!

Kalah visited Kesha at school and met her teachers and friends! Kesha was (and is) a very proud big sister!

We went to a city inauguration event that was a bit like a small festival. They are putting in new sidewalks and cycle paths throughout the city and were celebrating one of the completed projects. We listened to live music, ran in to friends, and Kesha got a balloon, a hot dog, and a glitter sign with her name on it! (we couldn't resist getting a sign for Kalah as well)

We went to the Russian Circus with some of our friends. Kesha fell while jumping on the stairs in the coliseo and scratched her chin. She took it like a champ (after crying for a while).

Had a lazy early Sunday morning followed by a trip downtown to the Parque Calderon, flower market, and the Casa de la Mujer. We, of course, got ice cream (well, Kesha and my mom did... I miss ice cream!).

Lots of time with Nana. We are so glad she's here for a couple more weeks!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One month old

You are one month old today Miss Pickles!
Time has flown.

Here are a few highlights from your first month of life:

  • You dislike being on your tummy and demonstrated this by rolling yourself back over to your back (I think we're in trouble!).
  • You had your first cold (everyone in the house was sick).
  • Your dairy and soy protein intolerance (knowns as MSPI) was discovered and brought many dietary changes for your mama so we could try and curb your projectile vomiting and discomfort.
  • You are a sleeper, waking only a couple of times per night (thank you baby gods!).
  • You are also very relaxed and generally happy (unless your MSPI is acting up, then you're cranky, and rightfully so!).
  • You met your Nana for the first time and she is here helping out with you girls while your Papi is away in the jungle.
  • I asked your sister if she wanted to exchange you or take you back. She said no that she wanted to keep you, so I guess you're sticking around for a while... and your sister must love you quite a bit!
  • We have gone on many outings, but your first outing was to meet your pediatrician, Dr. Loyola. She is fantastic. You will like her as much as Kehsa does.
  • Your first non-doctor outing was to your Abuela's house and then to the park so your big sis could play outside for a while. You have also ventured to the grocery store several times, to a street festival, and the Russian Circus.
  • We think you are going to have blue eyes, leaving your Papi as the only boy and the only non blue eyed person in our family.
  • You have met most of our friends and immediate family here in Cuenca. You have met your Grandpa, Uncle BJ, Kelly, and Tio Nano via Skype.
  • You gained one full kilo (2.2 pounds) this month, bringing your total weight to around 3.8 kilos (8.3 pounds).

You are more beautiful every day. We can't wait to see what comes next. We love you!
Mommy, Papi, and Kesha

Friday, June 7, 2013

Traveling with a toddler - part 2: packing

Transferred from my old account. Original post written on December 16, 2012.

Packing is one of the easiest, yet hardest things about traveling anywhere. It is so easy to overpack and so easy to forget important items.

I would love to report that I am extremely organized about my packing... making lists, laying everything out, checking and double checking what I have put in my bag, and only packing the most essential, practical items. But that is by no means the case.

My packing always starts far before our adventure begins, partially out of excitement, and partially out of laziness/lack of desire to be washing all the clothes I have to pack a night or two before we travel. I typically store my suitcases in a separate room and slowly bring clothes I think we might need and throw them in. Because clothes are so expensive in Ecuador I typically shop when I'm in the U.S. This allows me to keep my outfits to a bare minimum, packing around five to seven complete outfits for Kesha and the same number for myself. Lastly, the packing of gifts is always essential. These always go in the checked luggage. I also pack a suitcase inside of a suitcase in order to bring back all of the items we are gifted and purchase during our visit.

Suitcase inside of a suitcase
In my carry ons I packed Kesha's plane ride entertainment, her food and toy surprises, several changes of clothes for both of us (you ever know when a "potty trained" two year old will pee on your lap, or when someone might get sick or spill food on you, or other similar mishaps may occur). I also packed my laptop and a book. But truly there are very few essentials I have to make sure get in my bag to be able to travel. What are our travel essentials?
  • Kesha's and my Ecuadorian passports (we can't leave Ecuador without them)
  • Kesha's and my U.S. passports (we can't enter the U.S. without them)
  • Kesha's vaccination record (I have no idea which vaccines she's had, so better to have her record just in case)
  • A notarized permission letter from my husband allowing me to take Kesh out of the country without him
Some of our travel essentials

Packing the carry ons in truly the hardest task. Since I opted to travel without a stroller this time (I want to bring our Maclaren umbrella stroller back with me) I had to think about weight and feasibility, since more often than not a tired toddler wants to be carried.

In the end I packed her little backpack with many of her toys, yet kept it light enough for her to carry. I ended up checking my "wheely" carry on, taking advantage of  customs in Miami to stock up on additional items I needed for the rest of the trip and/or changing out clothes that we might need, and only carried on my satchel bag.

The two carry ons
K's backpack

What are your tips on packing for your family's international adventures? What are your packing essentials?

Traveling with a toddler - part 1: preparation

Transferred from my old account. Original post written on December 5, 2012.

Bugs and I are traveling to Seattle next week to see my parents (yippee!).

We have made this trip 4 times before, each time traveling just the two of us. This time will be the same. The difference now is that Bugs is older and although still small, she has huge amounts of energy, making our upcoming 20 hour, 3 flight (with a redeye leg), 2 layover, 4 passport (2 for each of us from each country), international adventure seem daunting.

However, there is no better way to overcome intimidation that preparation!

Here is how we are getting ready to travel...
(if you are also traveling with toddlers this holiday season you may find these tips useful)

Preparation #1 - Games for the iPhone

Yes, I am one of "THOSE" moms who lets my child play games on her iPhone. And do you know what? It is a LIFESAVER! Especially when it comes to long plane rides. Here are a few aps I downloaded that Kesha really seems to enjoy:

1. Kids Song Machine (by Genera Interactive)
Photo curtesy of
We love this ap because it has favorite kids songs like "Old McDonald", "If You're Happy and You Know It", "I'm a Little Teapot", and many more and its interactive. Kids can tap the screen and interact with the moving characters. The interactions on this game are a bit simpler than Kids Song Machine 2 (which I will talk about below), but it is nice to throw in to the mix. Cost $1.99

2. Kids Song Machine 2 (by Genera Interactive)
Photo curtesy of
Our family loves this ap not only because it is musical and interactive like the original Kids Song Machine, but it is internationally focused! The songs are not well known like in the first ap, but they are much more interactive and Miss B has loved discovering the intricacies of the interactions in each international world presented by this ap. Cost: $1.99

3. The Wheels on the Bus (by Kids Games Club)
Screenshot from my iPhone
This game could last kids a lifetime with all of the different activities it has to do. Game options include: Song, Happy Math, Racing Track, Car Puzzles, Horn Piano, Memory Cards, Bus Ride, Tap the Car, Tiny Train, and Coloring Book. All interactive and fairly basic concepts. Although B is only 2 she can play the Horn Piano, do the puzzles, memory cards, likes to listen to the Tiny Train game, and loves the coloring book (by far her favorite game in this ap). The initial version is free, however, I upgraded to the full version for $1.99.

4. Dr. Panda Teach Me (by TribePlay)
Screenshot from my iPhone
This game is a bit more complex but has a lot of fun activities like matching, which animal is larger/smaller than the rest, counting, locating colors, and much more. It is slightly out of my daughter's reach, but she still really enjoys interacting with Dr. Panda and the games. Cost: $1.99

Preparation #2 - Presents and Onboard Surprises

When I first realized that the upcoming trip with Miss B was making me slightly anxious I did what most people would do, seek out advice via social media and read online articles. I got some wonderful wonderful advice! Once such piece of advice is this second preparation piece, presents and onboard surprises.

Someone recommended that I let B unwrap one present per hour of flying. Well that is not going to happen with a 20 hour trip! However, I have decided that 3 presents per flight for the two non-redeye flights is just the right quantity of gift giving for my child. So here's what I have planned...

Flight 1: Guayaquil-Miami
She gets nothing but a pillow, a blanket, books, and lots of love. No surprises and presents to keep her up for this one. It's a redeye flight and I would like for her to sleep as much as possible!

Flight 2: Miami-Chicago
When she wakes up in the morning we will be in Miami and have to go through immigration and customs (she will deserve something amazing after just doing that). When we board our next flight I will wait until she shows signs of boredom and fidgetiness before I pull out granola cookies or some other sort of food-related "treat" (you can interpret treat however you would like to). The next time she gets bored I will pull out a toy gift. I am going with a new small tea set for the first gift with hopes that it will keep her occupied offering me "tea mommy?" for the rest of the flight! If she is still struggling I will pull out the big guns and give her a "premio" (what she calls candy) later on in the flight as my final bribe.

Flight 3: Chicago-Seattle
We will both be totally fed up with traveling at this point and I am going to keep my fingers crossed that she will be the trooper she typically is when she travels. However, I will keep a similar trend up my sleeve for this last leg of the journey as I did for the Miami-Chicago leg. First a healthy-ish treat , then a toy, then candy.

All of these gifts will be "wrapped" in some way so it feels like she is getting something very special that is only related with the fact that she is traveling.

Preparation #3 - PINTAR!!!!!

Those of you who know Kesha know that one of her favorite things to do in the entire world is color, paint, smear, daub, rub, and sketch... She will do it when and where she can and loves every minute of it. So, when she travels she can pick out (at the airport!) a new set of markers and a new coloring book or blank tablet (I let her pick, that way she truly takes ownership of the items... or at least I'd like to think so). The last time we flew I did this exact thing and she painted the entire trip to Seattle. As you can tell from preparation #2 I do not expect the same results this trip, however, I do think it will be an excellent activity that will use up a good portion of her waking hours during our flights.
Pintar? Yeah, pintar!

Preparation #4 - The backpack

Kesha was given a backpack for her birthday, and boy does she love that backpack. However, I have hidden her backpack. And I am hiding all of the toys that she has been in to for the past couple of weeks in the backpack. So far I have stashed away books, a coloring pad, and a handful of toys. I will give her her backpack as we board the bus from Cuenca to Guayaquil and make it her responsibility. Her suitcase. I think it will help keep her occupied for about 15 minutes haha.
THE backpack and the Bugster

Preparation #5 - Goodie bags for my seat mates 

love this idea and hope I get around to doing it. The thought is that you hand out goodie bags to the people sitting closest to you to butter them up before your toddler starts acting up. A website recommended attaching a note saying please remember how it was when you were little and you were so excited to fly and please enjoy this token of our gratitude for your patience. It can be hard to travel alone with children (Have you ever thought about how you use the bathroom on the plan? Yeah, other people I've talked to hadn't either) and it can be hard for other passengers, especially those without children, to travel with them as well. A bit of thanks can go a long way and I'm hoping it will for us as well.
Photo curtesy of
Here is a website that talks about such gifts -

Do YOU have any great tips for traveling with a toddler?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

From 1 to 2... what has worked for us

Going from one child to two has been an experience for us (as I'm sure it is for most families). Kesha has had very normal reactions to Kalah's arrival, but that doesn't mean her reactions have all been positive. She has been angry, been excited, been easy to get along with, and not. She has regressed in some areas, wanted her independence in others, and has developed a very strong defiant streak.

So, what has worked for us as a family during this time of transition? Here's my list...

Lots of hugs
Kesh is a strong-willed, persistent child. There are days I relish this quality and love watching her problem solve, charging ahead on her own. There are days it turns my hair gray. With such stubbornness flowing in abundance from our soon to be three year old, when there issues arise we, many times, find ourselves falling back on the typical "correction" technique. Most of Kesh's acts of defiance are out of frustration with our new family situation, or mean she is lacking attention. Under such circumstances the typical "Kesha we don't bite people or babies", or "no biting Kesha" doesn't work. It makes her even more defiant (duh duh duhhhhhhh!).

While talking with my mom one day she asked "have you tried just holding her when she's like that". My answer, "um, no". So, I tried it, and boy does it work! It's amazing how something so simple as a big bear hug, a rock, a kiss, and an "I love you" can change everything.

Remember, when your child is acting out after a new sibling is introduced they may just be feeling pushed aside and want some of the love and attention they feel is missing, but don't know how to tell you.

I had a conversation with Kesha's pediatrician about some of the ways Kesha's actions have changed since Kalah was born. The first thing she did was smile and let me know that Kesha is completely normal (*phew!*). Then she made a few recommendations, one of which was "rather than correct, redirect" (of course this was said in Spanish and it didn't rhyme or sound as fun in Spanish as it does in English).

She is the expert in children and her suggestion, of course, is an excellent one.
Her main idea is that rather than this scenario (this is a hypothetical, although not far from realistic, scenario)...
Kesha: Coloring on the walls
Mom: "Kesha don't color on the walls"
Kesha: Looks Mommy straight in the eyes and colors on the walls again
Mom: "Kesha I swear if you color on those walls one more time I will throw all of your pens out the window"
Kesha: Looks Mommy straight in the eyes and continues coloring on the wall
Mom: "KESHA LEE GIVE ME YOUR PENS" and throws the pens out the window
Kesha: Bursts in to tears

You would have this scenario...
Kesha: Coloring on the walls
Mom: "Kesha, let's go to the park"
Kesha: "PARK!"
Mom: "Put your coat and shoes on"
Kesha, Mom & Kalah: Leave the house together to play at the park

Okay, so the second scenario is a bit idyllic and probably wouldn't play out that smoothly, but I think you get the idea (and no, we don't throw things out the window in our home). The idea is to completely change the child's direction so as to distract them from their frustrations and anger (which are probably causing them to purposefully do things they know they shouldn't be doing.

I am not that great at remembering to do this, but the times that I have remembered it has worked fairly well. Usually the getting out of the house part has been a bit of a struggle, but once we are out all of our attitudes totally change and our day becomes much better.

One on one time
Almost everything I do now involves both Kesha and Kalah. As a family have decided that exclusively breastfeeding again was right for us, but that means that Kalah has to be fairly close at all times. On several occasions I have made a real effort to just do things with Kesha and have someone else watch Kalah, and boy has it made a difference in Kesha's mood. I believe it shows her that she is still very special to me and that she hasn't lost her special time with her mommy.

I feed Kalah as much as she will eat and because she tends to want to eat only every couple of hours, I can buy myself a decent chunk of time with Kesha. We have gone outside to play in our apartment's courtyard (we have a grassy area with a waterfall where Kesha enjoys playing) while Arturo watched Kalah, I have taken Kesha to the grocery store (just the two of us) while Arturo watched Kalah, and my mom has taken Kal on several occasions during this visit so that Kesh and I could do things alone at home. We made and played with oobleck together, did the dishes (aka played with lots of soap and plastic containers in the sink), read books, had bath time, etc. I doesn't have to be something huge that you do with your older child, it's just the fact that you set aside and have that one on one time with them that makes the difference.

Letting her help
This is a suggestion you will see in the majority of articles and blogs that come up if you Google "helping my toddler adjust to a new baby". This worked for us at first... sort of, but has now become something that Kesh isn't that interested in.

When we first brought Kalah home Kesha wanted to do everything. She was excited to bring me diapers, pick out clothes, help us bathe Kalah, etc. At times letting her help became a struggle due to the fact that Kesha has a really hard time listening and following directions. We would tell her she could put diaper cream on Kalah's foot, but she would put it everywhere except Kalah's foot and then we would revert to correction and that would turn in to Kesha being upset (*sigh*).

However, the idea of helping Mommy and Papi with Kalah has gotten old and she is no longer interested.

So, I can say that it worked a bit at first, but now is not such a help due to the lack of interest on Kesha's part.

I found this and thought this was hilarious! It is obviously not my photo. The original can be found here:

Follow through and not feeling sorry
Consistency is key. If you had a rule before the baby was born, keep that rule. If you say no, follow through. Don't feel sorry for your oldest because of the new baby, and don't play the "oh, poor you, you now have a sibling and don't get all of the attention" card.

If you start giving in because you feel guilty about all of the adjustments your older child is going through, and that they are having a "rough time", you're going to make things much worse in the long run.

So, don't make new rules, or try to be tougher on your older child, but make sure you stick to your guns. (trust me, this is a lot harder than it sounds)

Allowing regression / Supporting desires for independence
Kesha has had a split reaction to Kalah's arrival.

In many aspects she wants to demonstrate that she is the bigger sister and can do more things on her own. She has stopped using her "potty seat" and her stool to use the toilet. She can get up and down off of the normal toilet by herself and wants no help in the bathroom at all (she won't even let us turn on the light for her, which means she goes to the bathroom in the dark a lot). She wants to get dressed from head to toe on her own and isn't asking for help as often (until she is extremely frustrated).

We have embraced her newfound desire to be a big girl.

However, she has also "regressed" in some aspects (I'm not a huge fan of the word regressed, but I can't think of another term to use, so we'll stick with that one). She has always been a kid that is tough to pin down, to get her to cuddle for long periods of time. She has tons of energy an wants to wiggle and move at all times. But now, when Kalah is resting, she wants to snuggle too (typically right where Kalah is), when Kalah is feeding, Kesha asks to breastfeed as well. Some people will tell you to let them, and I did let her try, but decided that I wasn't comfortable with the idea of Kesha wanting to breastfeed again. I have decided that she can have the sippy cup that we stole from her younger cousin. She calls it her "tete", which is a baby word for "teta", which in Spanish means bottle. She seems happy with that compromise and it is working for us. Kesha gets her "tete" and Kalah has "chucho".

Overall, I think embracing your child's demonstrated needs and desires (as long as they are appropriate) is a healthy thing to do, weather they are wanting to be a "big kid" and have more independence, or they want to revert to being a baby again.

Taking a break
Sometimes you want to shut yourself in the closet (or at least I do, and I can not imagine that I am alone here). When your infant needs you, and your toddler wants you, and both are screaming, what do you do? (besides reach for the nearest bottle of wine, of course)

One of my friends posted a status on Facebook one day along the lines of "it's too bad it's illegal to shut my child in their room". My response was "it's not illegal to shut yourself in a room", and sometimes you need to do just that. Well, not that exactly, but you need to take a break!

Ask someone to come over and help you.
Get a sitter, even if you just stay at home and take a bath.
If you have such luxuries available, take your toddler to one of those play cafes where someone else watches them while you drink coffee (don't forget your flask with whisky in it... kidding mom!) and eat copious amounts of pastries.

If Mama's happy, everyone is happy, right? Well, maybe not, but taking a break can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered.

Your home will not fall apart if you are not there.
You do deserve a break.
Maybe your kids even need a break from you!

I keep this bottle near by in case of emergencies.

I am most certainly not a perfect Mama. I have my days where I yell, my days where I shut myself in my room and pretend not to be on there when my toddler bangs on the door and screams "MOMMY!!!!" (yes, I have done this). I have had days where I have to say "I'm sorry" over and over again. But for the most part, we are figuring this all out.

What recommendations do you have? What has worked for your family?